Tamarind Mushrooms

Tamarind. The first time I was aware of having eaten it was in a now-closed Indonesian restaurant called the Rice Table. It was in San Rafael. I think on B Street. Another of my closest friends; my brother, really (though not biologically speaking) took me there. My favourite dish was the plate of tamarind mushrooms. I was successful in getting the recipe from the proprietor, but only on the condition that I never give it out. A woman of my word, I've made a slightly different version to share with y'all. Here it is.

1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2-3 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Put tamarind in a small bowl and add the warm water. Mash the tamarind in the water with a spoon (I use a grapefruit spoon, but that's just me) to mix it into the water, and also to separate the seeds and the other crunchy bits from the pulp. Heat the pan, then add the oil.

Ok... I'm just going to explain how I do this. You can do it how I do it, or you can do it a way that works better for you and with your kitchen. I get out a little hand-held strainer and I hold it over the pan. Then I pour the tamarind into the strainer and set the bowl aside. Using my spoon, I push the pulp through, then discard the seeds and crunchy bits. I used to strain it with my fingers, but the feel of the tamarind under my nails reminded me of the discomfort I feel when I have fish scales under my nails, though they're obviously very different. Then let the tamarind heat up in the oil, and add the garlic and ginger. As that heats up, toss in the mushrooms and mix them well. Salt and pepper them, then douse them with the lemon juice. Mix, mix, mix so the tamarind and lemon combine and get more liquidy and less paste-y. Oh, I forgot. This is all happening over medium-low heat. Once everything's combined right, let it hang out and cook until the mushrooms are the doneness you like. Stir them periodically. Serves 2.

I forgot to take a picture, again. I got excited. Last final tomorrow!! Woo!


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